“The New York Times” is reporting that after Trump fired F.B.I director James Comey, there was so much concern about the president’s behavior that law enforcement began investigating if he was working for Russia against the United States.
Counterintelligence investigators had to contemplate whether or not the president’s actions established a danger to the security of the United States. Law enforcement also tried to determine if the President was working for Russia by his own choice or was unintentionally was working for Moscow.
There was also a criminal aspect to the case that the F.B.I opened and that was whether the firing of James Comey was obstruction of justice.
The F.B.I was suspicious of Trump’s affiliation with Russia during the 2016 campaign but did not open an investigation because they were not sure how to go forward with an inquiry of such magnitude and sensitivity.
The activities Trump participated in before Comey was fired prompted the counterintelligence facet of the inquiry.
When Mueller was hired, he became the person in charge of the inquiry into Trump days after it was opened by the F.B.I. The inquiry is just a part of the entire inquiry that seeks to learn if Russian interfered in the 2016 election and if anybody affiliated with Trump conspired to help them.
In recent weeks, former law enforcement familiar with the case have stated that counterintelligence and criminal elements have been combined into one investigation. If Trump fired Comey to stop the Russian investigation, this can be considered both a national security concern and possibly a crime. The F.B.I counterintelligence department is in charge of any issues pertaining to national security.
According to former F.B.I counsel James A. Baker, if Comey was fired by Trump to halt the Russian investigation, this would be considered a national security issue because it would have hurt the bureau’s ability to get to the truth about Moscow’s role in the 2016 election.
There has been no public evidence released that Trump was in contact or was taking directions from the Russian government.
Trump’s lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, played down the importance of the investigation. He said that since the report is from a year and a half ago and shows no sign of collusion, that there was no breach of national security. Giuliani said on Friday that he has no inside knowledge of the inquiry.
Prior to the 2016 election, the F.B.I. was investigating four Trump associates over their Russian ties.
After Comey was fired on May 9, 2017, Trump partook in two other actions that took away any reservations of setting up an inquiry.
First, Trump wanted to send a letter to Comey about the firing. In the letter, he mentioned the Russian investigation, in which he thanked Comey for telling him he was not a subject in the Russian inquiry. Trump never sent the letter.
Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, drafted a letter for Trump to send to Comey and he told him that he should not mention the Russian investigation. Trump ordered Rosenstein to mention it.
Rosenstein did not follow Trump’s orders and this made the President angry. Trump added it to the letter himself.
The second incident that worried investigators was the NBC interview Trump participated in two days after Comey’s firing. Trump said that he fired Comey because of the Russian investigation.
After seeing the NBC interview, F.B.I investigators believed that they were doing the right thing regarding their investigation into Trump/Russia.
Written By Barbara Sobel
The New York Times: F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia
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